SpaceX has successfully re-launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets, marking the first time an organisation has been able to send an orbital-class booster into flight after recovering it from a previous launch.
The two-stage rocket, carrying a communications satellite into orbit for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES, blasted off at 6:27 p.m. EDT (22:27 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That may happen as soon as today, with the SES-10 mission to deliver a communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. "It dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the drone ship". However, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's COO, says reusing a rocket booster could result in a 30 percent discount per launch, saving companies more than $18 million.
The unprecedented twin achievements of launching a reusable rocket and salvaging the vehicle yet again for a possible third mission was hailed by billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk as are volutionary milestone in his quest to slash launch costs and shorten intervals between space shots.
"It's been 15 years to get to this point", he said. But more importantly, it'll gain the company a lot more customers - Musk said that many firms were waiting for the outcome of the launch before agreeing to fly on a recycled rocket. They pointed out that "Thursday's launch will be the first time an orbital-class commercial rocket has been reused". "It's taken us a long time, a lot of hard steps along with way, but I am just incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for being able to achieve this incredible milestone in the history of space".
To date, SpaceX has landed seven stages - not counting Thursday's encore landing - including four on a ship and three on a concrete pad at the Cape.
But these issues don't seem to bother Martin Halliwell, the chief technology officer at SES, who said at a press conference, "I think we are on the edge of quite a significant bit of history here".
Musk is now eyeing a relaunch in 24 hours.
SpaceX first planned to reuse a rocket past year.
The part of the rocket that is being recycled is its main body, which separates from the top part of the rocket and then barrels back to Earth, NBC News reported.